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Montana Field Guides

Red-naped Sapsucker - Sphyrapicus nuchalis

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Global Rank: G5
State Rank: S4B

Agency Status
USFWS:
USFS:
BLM:
FWP Conservation Tier: 3
PIF: 2


 

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Copyright by: The Macaulay Library at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Ithaca, NY, all rights reserved.
 
General Description
Call a nasal or mewing "cheerrr" or "meeah" like Yellow-bellied Sapsucker; typical drumming pattern is a burst of several rapid thumps followed by several slow, rhythmic thumps (Peterson 1990, Howell and Webb 1995). Like other sapsuckers, leaves distinctive sign in horizontal rows of small, squarish sap wells around tree trunks, especially in broad-leaved trees. See Devillers (1970) and Dunn (1978) for detailed information on identification. Small to medium woodpecker; length 19 to 21 cm; mass 32 to 66 g. Black bib on upper breast, prominent red forehead with black band at rear, nape red, black stripe along side of head bordered by 2 white stripes, crown and nape black, large white wing-patch, back blackish, rump white, and underparts buffy or yellow-tinged. Male: throat red. Female: chin and upper throat white, lower throat red (Walters et al. 2002).

Species Range
Montana Range

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Western Hemisphere Range

 


Summary of Observations Submitted for Montana
Number of Observations: 3351

(Click on the following maps and charts to see full sized version) Map Help and Descriptions
Relative Density

Recency

Breeding
(direct evidence "B")


Breeding
(indirect evidence "b")


No evidence of Breeding
(transient "t")


Overwintering
(regular observations "W")


Overwintering
(at least one obs. "w")



 

(Records associated with a range of dates are excluded from time charts)



Migration
In Bozeman area, normal migration periods are May 8 to 20 and September 5 to 20, with no peak dates (Skaar 1969).

Habitat
Birds have a strong preference for nesting in broken-top larch; optimum habitat is old-growth larch, particularly near wet areas. Excavates a new cavity each spring. Breeds in deciduous and mixed woodlands including aspen groves in open ponderosa pine forests, aspen-fir parklands, logged forests where deciduous groves remain, aspen groves in open rangeland, birch groves, montane coniferous forests and occasionally subalpine forest edges (Walters et al. 2002).

Ecological Systems Associated with this Species
  • Details on Creation and Suggested Uses and Limitations
    How Associations Were Made
    We associated the use and habitat quality (high, medium, or low) of each of the 82 ecological systems mapped in Montana for vertebrate animal species that regularly breed, overwinter, or migrate through the state by:
    1. Using personal observations and reviewing literature that summarize the breeding, overwintering, or migratory habitat requirements of each species (Dobkin 1992, Hart et al. 1998, Hutto and Young 1999, Maxell 2000, Foresman 2001, Adams 2003, and Werner et al. 2004);
    2. Evaluating structural characteristics and distribution of each ecological system relative to the species’ range and habitat requirements;
    3. Examining the observation records for each species in the state-wide point database associated with each ecological system;
    4. Calculating the percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system to get a measure of “observations versus availability of habitat”.
    Species that breed in Montana were only evaluated for breeding habitat use, species that only overwinter in Montana were only evaluated for overwintering habitat use, and species that only migrate through Montana were only evaluated for migratory habitat use.  In general, species were associated as using an ecological system if structural characteristics of used habitat documented in the literature were present in the ecological system or large numbers of point observations were associated with the ecological system.  However, species were not associated with an ecological system if there was no support in the literature for use of structural characteristics in an ecological system, even if point observations were associated with that system.  High, medium, and low habitat quality was assigned based on the degree to which the structural characteristics of an ecological system matched the preferred structural habitat characteristics for each species in the literature.  The percentage of observations associated with each ecological system relative to the percent of Montana covered by each ecological system was also used to guide assignments of habitat quality.  If you have any questions or comments on species associations with ecological systems, please contact Bryce Maxell at bmaxell@mt.gov or (406) 444-3655.

    Suggested Uses and Limitations
    Species associations with ecological systems should be used to generate potential lists of species that may occupy broader landscapes for the purposes of landscape-level planning.  These potential lists of species should not be used in place of documented occurrences of species (this information can be requested at: http://mtnhp.org/requests/default.asp) or systematic surveys for species and evaluations of habitat at a local site level by trained biologists.  Users of this information should be aware that the land cover data used to generate species associations is based on imagery from the late 1990s and early 2000s and was only intended to be used at broader landscape scales.  Land cover mapping accuracy is particularly problematic when the systems occur as small patches or where the land cover types have been altered over the past decade.  Thus, particular caution should be used when using the associations in assessments of smaller areas (e.g., evaluations of public land survey sections).  Finally, although a species may be associated with a particular ecological system within its known geographic range, portions of that ecological system may occur outside of the species’ known geographic range.

    Literature Cited
    • Adams, R.A.  2003.  Bats of the Rocky Mountain West; natural history, ecology, and conservation.  Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.  289 p.
    • Dobkin, D. S.  1992.  Neotropical migrant land birds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. USDA Forest Service, Northern Region. Publication No. R1-93-34.  Missoula, MT.
    • Foresman, K.R.  2001.  The wild mammals of Montana.  Special Publication No. 12.  Lawrence, KS: The American Society of Mammalogists.  278 p.
    • Hart, M.M., W.A. Williams, P.C. Thornton, K.P. McLaughlin, C.M. Tobalske, B.A. Maxell, D.P. Hendricks, C.R. Peterson, and R.L. Redmond. 1998.  Montana atlas of terrestrial vertebrates.  Montana Cooperative Wildlife Research Unit, University of Montana, Missoula, MT.  1302 p.
    • Hutto, R.L. and J.S. Young.  1999.  Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service, Rocky Mountain Research Station RMRS-GTR-32.  72 p.
    • Maxell, B.A.  2000.  Management of Montana’s amphibians: a review of factors that may present a risk to population viability and accounts on the identification, distribution, taxonomy, habitat use, natural history, and the status and conservation of individual species.  Report to U.S. Forest Service Region 1.  Missoula, MT: Wildlife Biology Program, University of Montana.  161 p.
    • Werner, J.K., B.A. Maxell, P. Hendricks, and D. Flath.  2004.  Amphibians and reptiles of Montana.  Missoula, MT: Mountain Press Publishing Company. 262 p.

Food Habits
Creates sap wells in the bark of woody plants and feed on sap that appears there. When Red-naped Sapsuckers first arrive at their breeding areas, they often drill sap wells in the xylem of conifers and aspens. Once the temperatures increase and sap begins to flow, theses birds switch to phloem wellls in aspen or willow, if available. Insects, also bast (inner bark), fruit, and seeds (Walters et al. 2002).

Reproductive Characteristics
Nest cavities made in dead trees or dead portions of live trees. Pure white, moderately glossy eggs are ovate to elliptical-ovate or rounded-ovate. Clutch size ranges 4 to 7 eggs (Walters et al. 2002). Near Fortine, egg dates are May 26 to June 3; young in nest from June 18 to July 11. Statewide, nests in June and early July (Davis 1961).

References
  • Additional ReferencesLegend:   View WorldCat Record   View Online Publication
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    • American Ornithologists' Union. 1998. Check-list of North American birds. 7th edition. American Ornithologists' Union, Washington, D.C. 829 pp.
    • Bull, E. L., S. R. Peterson, and J. W. Thomas. 1986. Resource partitioning among woodpeckers in northeastern Oregon. USDA Forest Service, Pacific Northwest Research Station, Portland, OR. Research Note PNW-444. 19 pp.
    • Butts, Thomas W., Western Technology and Eng., Helena, MT., 1993, Continental Lime Indian Creek Mine, Townsend, MT. 1993 Life of Mine Wildlife Reconnaissance. June 1993. In Life-of-Mine Amendment. Continental Lime, Inc., Indian Creek Mine & Plant. Vol. 2. October 13, 1992.
    • Casey, D. 2000. Partners in Flight Draft Bird Conservation Plan Montana. Version 1.0. 287 pp.
    • Crockett, A. B., and H. H. Hadow. 1975. NEST SITE SELECTION BY WILLIAMSON'S AND RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS. Condor 77:365-368.
    • Dobkin, D. S. 1992. Neotropical migrant landbirds in the Northern Rockies and Great Plains. U.S.D.A. For. Serv. N. Region Publ. R1-93-34. Missoula, Mont.
    • Ehrlich, P., D. Dobkin, and D. Wheye. 1988. The birder’s handbook: a field guide to the natural history of North American birds. Simon and Schuster Inc. New York. 785 pp.
    • Hutto, R. L. and J. S. Young. 1999. Habitat relationships of landbirds in the Northern Region, USDA Forest Service. General Technical Report RMRS-GTR-32. U. S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and Rocky Mountain Research Station, Ogden, UT. 72 pp.
    • Lenard, S., J. Carlson, J. Ellis, C. Jones, and C. Tilly. 2003. P. D. Skaar's Montana Bird Distribution, 6th Edition. Montana Audubon: Helena, MT, 144 pp.
    • McClelland, B. R. 1977. Relationships between hole-nesting birds, forest snags and decay in western larch-Douglas fir forests of the northern Rocky Mountains. Ph.D. Thesis., Univ. of Montana, Missoula. 483 pp.
    • Montana Bird Distribution Committee. 2012. P.D. Skaar's Montana bird distribution. 7th Edition. Montana Audubon, Helena, Montana. 208 pp. + foldout map.
    • Thompson, Richard W., Western Resource Dev. Corp., Boulder, CO., 1996, Wildlife baseline report for the Montana [Montanore] Project, Lincoln and Sanders counties, Montana. In Application for a Hard Rock Operating Permit and Proposed Plan of Operation, Montanore Project, Lincoln and Sanders Counties, Montana. Vol. 5. Stroiazzo, John. Noranda Minerals Corp., Libby, MT. Revised September 1996.
    • Tobalske, B. W. 1992. Evaluating habitat suitability using relative abundance and fledgling success of red-naped sapsuckers. Condor 94:550-553.
    • Tobalske, B. W., R. L. Hutto, and R. C. Shearer. 1990. The effects of timber harvesting on the reproductive success of red-naped sapsuckers (Spphyrapicus nucyhalis). The N. Environ. J. 6:398-399.
    • Walters, Eric L., Edward H. Miller, and Peter E. Lowther. 2002. Red-naped Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus nuchalis). Species Account Number 663b. The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca, NY: Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology; Retrieved 3/25/2008 from The Birds of North America Online database
    • Western Technology and Engineering, Inc. (WESTECH). 1994. Wildlife Monitoring Absaloka Mine Area Annual Report, 1993. Montana SMP 85005. OSMP Montana 0007C. Mar. 12, 1994.
    • Weydemeyer, W., and D. Weydemeyer. 1928. The woodpeckers of Lincoln County, Montana. Condor 30:339-346.
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Citation for data on this website:
Red-naped Sapsucker — Sphyrapicus nuchalis.  Montana Field Guide.  Montana Natural Heritage Program and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.  Retrieved on November 22, 2014, from http://FieldGuide.mt.gov/speciesDetail.aspx?elcode=ABNYF05040
 
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